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Want to be more involved in shaping your neighborhood? Apply to join your community board

Photo: S. Jhoanna Robledo

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It may not be the sexiest of entries on a resume, but becoming a community board member in New York City means—apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda—being in the room where "it" happens. By "it," we mean decisions involving how city's neighborhoods take shape, be it zoning, traffic issues, or the new (and potentially noisy, but social-scene-enlivening) bar headed down your block. 

Earlier this year, Florence Koulouris, district manager of Community Board 1 in Queens, told Brick that attending community board meetings helps New Yorkers "learn all of the things that are going on in your district and it's your opportunity to know your neighborhood better." Joining your community board takes that involvement one step further. 

To be clear, Community Board members do not actually pass legislation; neither can they demand city agencies act on an issue. Boards exist largely in an "advisory role," per the city's website, which describes the role of members extensively. But it's an important one, as they act as conduits between residents in their neighborhoods and city agencies making budgetary decisions that affect their constituents.

You can access the application for Manhattan here, Brooklyn's here, as well as ones for the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. There are 59 Community Boards across the city, and not all will have openings. Deadlines vary by borough, but generally fall sometime in February 2017.

If you're chosen for the board—according to blog The Lo-Down, City Council members make recommendations to the borough presidents (in Manhattan's case, for instance, it's Gail Brewer, and in the Bronx, Ruben Diaz, Jr.)—expect to attend many meetings, including those for committees on which you'll serve.

Even if you don't join, attending meetings as a resident is one easy way to keep informed of goings-on even if you're not appointed. (HBO's Girls has Ray, who decided to join his board in Brooklyn, first became involved in his neighborhood by attending some admittedly hellish meetings.) 

For more information on which board serves your neighborhood, the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit can help.

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